K-20: The Fiend with Twenty faces AKA K-20: Legend of the Mask (Shimako Sato, 2008)
As something of an evil genius I generally find myself relating to those ambitious, audacious go-getters that tear up the screen with their spectacular schemes, volcano bases and doomsday devices. This accounts for my interest in movies that feature supervillains in lead roles (as documented here) and it is therefore not too surprising that I am fond of K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces despite it actually being not all that easy to get though.
Set in an alternate universe, where atomic bombs have not being dropped during World War 2, we find Japan a prosperous city of innovation on the eve of a Tesla style electrical device that could power the world being revealed and where gyrocopters and zeppelins fly over a techno-industrial cityscape. It’s a kind of steam-punk affair, but with steam replaced by propellers and electricity. ‘Leccypunk’, if you will. I know I will. Just watch me.
But rather than have the narrative follow K-20 Diabolik style the film instead spends its time with the circus acrobat, his larger surrogate family of paupers and circus performers, his reluctant working relationship with the police officer and his attempts to ready himself to go up against K-20. Despite a fun training montage and a couple of nice action sequences the middle gets a little slow, muddled, melodramatic and dull.
But boy does it make up for it with the ending. As the energy device appears from the roof of a massive art-deco tower the acrobat battles with K-20 in a joyously realised finale containing some excellent action choreography, superb visual effects and massively exciting orchestral score.
With the fun opening and the barnstorming ending there is enough here to satisfy those of your with similar tastes to me. If only there had been a little more ruthlessness in the editing the film would have danced to it’s thrilling climax rather than hobbled.
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